In this digital age, law enforcement agencies are facing a high-tech predicament that is two-fold. First, incidence of computer crimes are exploding throughout the country, as it is becoming more prevalent to see crimes that are connected to computers or the internet. Not only are there crimes that are unique to computers, such as hacking and phishing, but computers are now being used in many age old crimes. Consider the drug dealer who used to keep his records with pen and paper, now it’s laptops. People used to break restraining orders through the mail, now it’s e-mail. People used to get harassed or threatened over the phone, now it’s in chat rooms. Computers and the internet have not only created new crimes, but are now being used as tools in many different crimes.
Secondly, law enforcement agencies are confronted with the fact that investigation of these crimes is extremely complicated and time consuming. Many computer laws and procedures are being written and re-written as this new field of law enforcement evolves. In addition, consider that a single home computer has the capability to store the equivalent of a warehouse full of file cabinets, with millions upon millions of files. So, not only are computer crimes becoming more prevalent, but the investigation of these crimes is a unique field, requiring highly trained personnel and specialized equipment.
The Metropolitan Law Enforcement Council has recognized this trend and created the MetroLEC Computer Crime Unit. As a member, the Dover Police utilize the the MetroLEC Computer Crime Forensics Lab, which is located at the Norwood Police Department. This lab allows investigatorst to conduct both investigations and forensic exams. There are so many different facets of computers and the internet, that the unit has been organized into four (4) divisions:
- Investigative Division: Responsible for investigating incoming cases and gathering information, evidence, and probable cause for further legal action; or to track and identify suspects when needed. These investigations often lead to the seizure of computer equipment.
- Forensic Division: Responsible for forensically examining computer hardware that has been identified by investigators as related to a violation of the law. Members conduct computer forensic exams for the gathering of evidence related to these crimes.
- Training Division: Responsible for computer crime prevention training. A critical part of the puzzle, these members create and initiate training classes for the general public, such as the “Internet Safety for Kids” program.
- Website Division: A new section of the unit that is endeavoring to bring the operation of MetroLEC website in house.
Since the creation of the MetroLEC Computer Crime Unit, the lab has been flooded with cases from throughout the member communities, and continues to support the region as one of the most experienced labs in the State.
The Computer Crime Unit (CCU) is available to assist in the investigation of computer crimes, or for assistance where a computer was used as a tool of storage, communication or any other function. The unit is fully equipped to receive computer hardware and forensically examine it for evidence.